International Ice Hockey Federation

Fiala leads Swiss to win

Fiala leads Swiss to win

5-2 win first vs. Czechs in 17 years

Published 27.12.2014 21:29 GMT-5 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Fiala leads Swiss to win
TORONTO, CANADA - DECEMBER 27: Switzerland players look on during the national anthem after a preliminary round win over the Czech Republic at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
We need to talk about Kevin. Fiala, that is. He scored two great goals in the first period and played high-tempo hockey all night, leading the Swiss to victory.

Fiala was drafted 11th overall by Nashville in 2014 after playing in the U18, U20, and World Championship last year, only the third player ever to turn that tournament hat trick in one season. Tonight, he made the Predators very happy with a play that was so inspired it verged on maniacal.

The last time the Swiss beat the Czechs in U20 play was on 3rd January 1998, a skein of seven losses in a row since.

"I was really nervous before the game," Fiala confessed, "because we knew this was perhaps the most important game of the tournament for us. The first game always is, but I was focused and 100 per cent ready."

The game opened with a flurry of goals, three in the first 4:42, to be precise. The first came after just 46 seconds off a turnover inside the Czech blue line. Timo Meier picked up the puck and fired a hard pass behind the play, and Fiala wired a hard shot over the glove of Vitek Vanecek.

No sooner had the Swiss celebrated than they found themselves in a tie game. David Nemecek’s point shot at 1:44 was tipped in front by Marek Ruzicka to tie the game. Three minutes later, the Czechs took the lead on a similar play.

This time it was defenceman Lukas Klok who snapped a quick point shot that made its way through traffic and past Gauthier Descloux.

But the period belonged to Fiala, who was calling for the puck like Michael Jordan with a hot hand. Midway through he took the puck to the side of Descloux’s goal and went the length of the rink before ripping a hard shot high to the top corner to tie the game. Definitely goal of the tournament material.

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"I looked up and saw a hole on the far side, and thought to myself, 'Yeah, I can score there,' so it was a good goal for me," Fiala said.

"He has the best hands on the team," Rod enthused of Fiala. "I've known him for more than ten years. He's like a brother to me."

The second period started out like the first, but the Swiss were the sole beneficiaries. Noah Rod picked up a loose puck in the slot after some good puck possession, wiring a shot past Vanecek just 45 seconds into the period.

"It was exciting scoring my first goal at the World Juniors, but it's more exciting to win the game," Rod said.

Some 44 seconds later, the Swiss made it a 4-2 game when Kay Schweri made a nice pass from the corner to Tim Wieser. Wieser redirected the puck from some distance past Vanecek, a weak goal, to be sure.

And, for good measure, the Swiss added a third goal of the period. After some nice puck movement on the power play, Luca Fazzini snapped a shot from the slot past Vanecek to make it 5-2. This marked the first time in U20 history the Swiss had scored as many goals against the Czechs in 17 all-time meetings.

Once the Swiss had the goals, Descloux kept the lead for his teammates, making two sensational glove stops on Ruzicka and David Kase to keep it a 5-2 game after 40 minutes. It was the Swiss who dominated the third period and were full measure for the win.

"We watched them from the stands yesterday [against Sweden] to see what they were like, so we were ready today, for sure," Fiala added.

"We have a good team that can score goals, but we also have a lot of good players who are not on the team this year as well," Rod noted.

Switzerland gets right back at it tomorrow, playing Russia, while the Czechs, now 0-2, will play Denmark on Monday.


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